Opening your home to a family for an evening is one thing, but what about having guests for a week or more?
Here are some suggestions from our own experience:
Give them their own space and stay out of it. If you have an extra bedroom, let them use it. Make it off limits to your own kids.
Be available for them, and be willing to talk, but be mindful of their needs and their kids as well. You can be cheerful, friendly and “available to talk” without being overwhelming and “in your face” by nervous chatter or a gazillion questions. There’s nothing worse than being bombarded with questions when what you really need is to get your young children to bed. Sometimes the most helpful thing you can do is point them to their bedroom and say, “Have a great night! I’m going to bed.” It takes the pressure off them.
Think about their life stage and determine what they need. If they are a younger family, they might need their baby to sleep. Keeping the house as quiet as possible will help. Maybe they have three toddler boys and might need someone to take them outside and help get some of the energy out. Include your kids and teach them to “entertain” the kids as part of learning to be a good host/hostess. Maybe the parents haven’t had a date night in forever due to their stage of life. Offer to watch the kids so they can go out!
Tell them to help themselves to snacks, drinks, fruit, whatever you have to share. My parents gave me Keurig machine a few years ago and it is one of my favorite tools for hospitality. I keep a basket of K-cups, tea bags, hot chocolate packets right out on the counter so they can take what they want when they want.
Keep breakables out of reach of kids. If you have something really valuable then put it out of reach. This will make your guests more at ease. When I hear a mom saying, “Don’t touch!” for fear her child will break my nick-nacks, I’m quick to say, “Oh, don’t worry, there’s nothing in this house that is irreplaceable.” It makes me happy when guests put their feet up on my coffee table.
Ask them what you can do to make their day more productive. Women who are living in your home still have goals of their own. They might be trying to homeschool children, potty train children, train children, etc. Ask how you can be helpful. Do they need to use your car to run an errand? Do they need a place to teach their kids?
Give them freedom to come and go as they please. They might want to see friends in the area, visit a local attraction or do a day trip as a family. This is especially true if the couple staying with you is a traveling Evangelist or missionary. They might really just need alone time for their family. Tell them what’s great to see in the area or tell them about library passes you might be able to check out for them to local museums or historic places. Offer to pack a small lunch for them if they’d like to take it along on their day trip. But give them time alone if they’d like that.
Let them use your “toys.” In other words, share what you have. If your kids have toys, bring a basket down for your company’s kids to use. If you have bikes or a canoe, let them use it as a family. A car? Share it. Give them access to your family book library, your movie library and DVD player, ask them if they need to use your washer or dryer, etc…
Talk about meals. If you have someone staying with you for a week, talk to the mom about the meals you were planning and offer alternatives you can afford. Maybe they’d really love BBQ and not another spaghetti dinner because they’ve eaten that five times this week prior to coming to your home. Ask about food allergies and children’s likes and dislikes. Tell them when you eat and how you handle meals.
Give them clean towels and facecloths or point them to the linen closet so they can use the showers as they will.
I know this list is just the beginning, so what would you add? What have you learned about hosting people for longer periods of time? Share your wisdom in the comments.